Tamil Nadu capitulates, staring defeat

April 15, 2000 12:00 am | Updated 12:00 am IST - MUMBAI

MUMBAI, APRIL 14. In a dozen years of first class cricket, Sachin Tendulkar has rarely been seen to emote in the moment of personal triumph, which he has often dismissed as insignificant or even in a team's success. On Friday, Tendulkar, could not stem the adrenalin that pumped him to exult, throwing his fist up after pulling Thirunavukarasu Kumaran to the mid-wicket boundary.

It was Tendulkar's 21st four that kindled pale faces and sinking hearts in the dressing room and a host of former Mumbai cricketers in the Managing Committee Box. He made all the runs Mumbai needed to take the first innings after play resumed on the fourth day. The decisive hour of this Ranji Trophy semifinal between Mumbai and Tamil Nadu will arrive on Saturday with the home team 63 runs away from a win.

The pages of the National championship's history will illustrate a few fascinating contests between players who represented the erstwhile Bombay and Madras teams. Only on an odd occasion the Southern side had managed to outwit its most celebrated rival. This happened, after thirteen consecutive defeats, at Thirunelveli. It demands hard evidence to get a nod of approval as a competitive team and hail an individual's performance from local folks.

This time they did not fuss about while commending Tamil Nadu's show of grit and gumption till the time it conceded to Tendulkar's crusade for his team in a Ranji Trophy semifinal which can be put down only as a super effort. It is unfortunate that Hemang Badani, 23, does not find a place in the 24 probables picked for the National Cricket Academy. The left-hander will leave Mumbai with satisfaction of scoring 265 runs in two innings which only a handful of batsmen have done.

At stumps on the fourth day, everybody, including both the teams, Mumbai's selectors and supporters, were free of tension, which was not the case exactly at the same time on Thursday. Both the teams were in the crucial phase when they took the field. It had to be a nerve-wracking for Tamil Nadu's eleven players and Mumbai's two batsmen, Tendulkar and Abey Kuruvilla.

As it transpired, the first half an hour of the first session on Friday proved to be rivetting as a result of Tamil Nadu's splendid demonstration of defiance while confronting the individual capacity of Tendulkar.

No discredit for Tamil Nadu

Robin Singh's side lost the duel, but only to a brilliant counter-attack from the little champion. This was no discredit for a side which fought tooth and nail for nearly 22 hours. Had it not been for Tendulkar's unbeaten 233 which was a classic, Tamil Nadu might have been whistling its way into the final.

But Tendulkar baulked and burried them in a contest that rose to dizzy heights after Tendulkar took a single of the fourth ball of the day.

The plan of action was to keep Kuruvilla away from strike. Even Tendulkar was uncertain, nervous and of course concerned. With eight men on the line and Robin Singh being the nearest to the batsman, positioned some 30-metres away, Tendulkar was not inclined to take any risk by exposing Kuruvilla. Kumaran's first over produced just one run. Tendulkar surveyed the field and located the straight field before he faced Mahesh.

His straight hit off Mahesh seemed to be heading toward the fence, but Gokulakrishnan was making good ground from long on to sow the first doubts in Tendulkar's mind. They completed a single, but Kuruvilla stopped in his track while coming back for the second. There was a couple any way, but Kuruvilla showed lack of common sense. Gokulakrishnan's throw was accurate for Mahesh to flick the bails at the bowler's end to send a disheartened Kuruvilla back to the dressing room.

The first run counted, but more importantly Tendulkar was back at the striker's end. Mumbai needed another 14 runs. Tendulkar defended two deliveries before stepping out and lifting Mahesh out of the ground into the University Stadium.

The ball was lost. It was an extraordinary shot under circumstances, but then only Tendulkar could have done it. Mahesh's short ball - the sixth of the second over - was meant to sail over the batsman, but it did not climb enough to prevent Tendulkar from tapping it to fine leg for a single.

Shot of the match

Tendulkar, perhaps played the shot of the match in the next over from Kumaran. He came forward and struck the ball on the up to the right of Aashish Kapoor at deep cover. Robin Singh had deliberately positioned himself 10 yards away from Kapoor, but Tendulkar had timed his shot so well to beat even one of the best in business. Robin Singh went down sprawling, but the ball crashed against the barbed fencing. This was the only productive stroke in Kumaran's second over of the morning, which exposed Santosh Saxena to Mahesh, who was willing to do that extra bit for his side.

Mahesh was annoyed when umpire K. Hariharan did not respond positively to a leg before appeal. Later in the afternoon, there was some show of bloodletting, when he was ruled caught at the wicket by Dighe by umpire K.S. Giridharan. He banged his bat on the ground, showed the part of the body where the ball had hit before leaving the ground. Mahesh has the right attitude for a fast-medium bowler and did make a fine impression in the match, but the match observer said he will indeed highlight his misdemeanour to the authorities.

After that eventful over, Tendulkar finally decided to put an end to all the drama, pulling Kumaran to the mid-wicket fence, which saw Mumbai go past Tamil Nadu's 485. He and his teammates were all relieved, but soon Saxena holed out, driving a full toss from Kumaran to Badani at mid-on. It all seemed a matter of life and death. Tendulkar returned with an undefeated 233 (565m, 334b, 21 x 4, 5 x 6), his highest in first class cricket. He had scored 58 runs of the 78 Mumbai made after the dismissal of Ramesh Powar.

Badani displays character

Mumbai was back in full steam after taking the first innings lead which seemed vital in the morning. By the 20th over, Tamil Nadu lost five wickets. But Badani displayed character in making a fine 63 before he fell to a direct hit from Wasim Jaffer. He and Reuben Paul, who has been off and on talked about as a possible India wicket-keeper, made 82 runs for the sixth wicket. Paul hit four fours and two sixes in aggressive knock of 46. Tamil Nadu was bowled out after tea for 171 which left Mumbai to make 167 for a win. Evidently, there was not much effort from the medium pacers. Skipper Dighe and Jatin Paranjpe did not let opportunities go abegging against Kapoor and Sriram. They have put on 65 for the second wicket as Mumbai finished the fourth day at 104 with Dighe on 51 with eight fours.

The scores:

Tamil Nadu - 1st innings: 485

Mumbai - 1st innings: S. Dighe c Paul b Mahesh 55; W. Jaffer c Ramesh b Kapoor 12; J. Paranjpe c Kapoor b Kumaran 15; S. Tendulkar (not out) 233; R. Pawar c Madanagopal b Kapoor 1; V. Kambli c and b Mahesh 75; A. Muzumdar c Robin Singh b Sriram 47; R. Powar c Sriram b Mahesh 13; A. Agarkar c Madanagopal b Kapoor 13; A. Kuruvilla (run out) 0; S. Saxena c Badani b Kumaran 0; Extras (b-9, lb-7, nb-10) 26; Total (in 152 overs) 490.

Fall of wickets.: 1-41, 2-77, 3-120, 4-127, 5-266, 6-391, 7-412, 8-449, 9-472.

Tamil Nadu bowling: Kumaran 26-7-88-2, Mahesh 27-3-105-3, Gokulakrishnan 21-7-72-0, Kapoor 29-6-93-3, Robin Singh 27-9-48- 0, Sriram 22-2-68-1.

Tamil Nadu - 2nd innings: S. Sriram c Paranjpe b Agarkar 10; S. Ramesh c and b Saxena 13; H. Badani (run out) 63; J. Madanagopal b Agarkar 6; S. Sharath lbw b Kuruvilla 1; Robin Singh c and b Kuruvilla 4; Reuben Paul c Kambli b Powar 46; S. Mahesh c Dighe b Saxena 0; J. Gokulakrishnan c Kambli b Pawar 5; A. Kapoor (not out) 19; T. Kumaran lbw b Powar 2. Extras (lb-2) 2; Total (in 54.1 overs) 171.

Fall of wickets.: 1-14, 2-28, 3-36, 4-39, 5-43, 5-125, 6-125, 7- 125, 8-138, 9-158.

Mumbai bowling: Agarkar 16-1-37-2, Saxena 8-1-35-2, Kuruvilla 7-2-16-2, Powar 9.1-2-19-2, Pawar 14-0-62-1.

Mumbai - 2nd innings: S. Dighe (batting) 51; W. Jaffer c Ramesh b Kapoor 15; J. Paranjpe (batting) 27; Extras (b-5, lb-2, nb-4) 11; Total (for one wkt. in 27 overs) 104.

Fall of wicket.: 1-39.

Tamil Nadu bowling: Kumaran 3-0-10-0, Mahesh 4-3-6-0, Gokulakrishnan 2-1-2-0, Kapoor 8-1-46-1, Sriram 8-1-28-0, Badani 2-0-5-0.

Tamil Nadu's J. Madanagopal looks back only to see his middle stump uprooted by Mumbai medium pacer Ajit Agarkar, in the second innings on the fourth day of the semifinal encounter in Mumbai on Friday.

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